Dixons Carphone’s head of global partnerships division Carl Cowling is leaving the business.
Cowling is understood to be heading for newsagent WH Smith where sources say he will join the retailer’s international airport concessions team. Cowling's senior management team will report to Steve Ager, group commercial director, following his departure.
Cowling will bring his previous experience as MD of Dixons Travel, between February 2009 and November 2011, to his new role at WH Smith. Dixons Travel operates the retailer’s airport stores across the UK and Europe.
WH Smith has ambitions to triple its airport concessions across the globe. It runs around 150 WH Smith outlets in more than 40 airport locations across the world.
Cowling’s move will come as a loss to Dixons Carphone. As head of Connected World Services, Cowling was seen as a big hitter who, sources say, played a major role in the negotiations which led to the merger of Dixons Retail and Carphone Warehouse this year.
He was also central to the negotiations which clinched the deal with Samsung, announced earlier this year, to roll out 60 Samsung branded mobile phone stores across Europe, including a third at key locations on UK high streets, sources claim.
Cowling also has years of experience in the electronics retail sector. Before moving to Carphone in 2013 he spent over six years at Dixons Retail. His roles there included ecommerce director and MD of Dixons Travel. In 2010 he moved to rival electronics retailer Comet as chief operating office, arriving at Carphone Warehouse in 2013 as group commercial director. In October 2013 he was made head of global partnerships at Carphone Warehouse with responsibility for the group’s Connected World Services team.
News of Cowling’s departure comes as Dixons Carphone ramps up its push into mobile. The retailer has recently taken on former Phones 4u chief marketing officer Scott Hooton and Nick Fisher, former Phones 4u chief operating officer, as industry consultants. Both will work on advising Dixons Carphone on the transformation of the 159 Phones 4u concessions in Currys/PC World stores to Carphone Warehouse store-in-stores.
The two consultants bring years of experience at Phones 4u to the table, a key asset for Dixons Carphone which has declared its desire to sweep up as much of Phones 4u’s business and its most talented staff, following the independent mobile retailer’s collapse in September.
Carphone Warehouse CEO Graham Stringer told analysts at a recent strategy day that the demise of Phones 4u created ‘huge opportunities’ for Dixons Carphone.
The retailer has already accelerated the roll out of Carphone Warehouse store-in-stores, since the demise of Phones 4u, with plans to have opened 190 store-instores before Christmas.
By October next year Dixons Carphone plans to have a Carphone Warehouse store-within-store in 380 Currys/PC World megastores.
Dixons Carphone confirmed that Cowling is set to leave the company next month.